I was recently a speaker at the WIPO Conference on the Global Digital Content Market and spoke on the ‘Digital architecture – The soft infrastructure of the global market’ panel on Friday 22nd April, here’s my speech:
Thank you Angela, and thank you WIPO.
This event, I feel, has been one of great optimism and opportunity. The sense that we can see and create positive change is palpable and I will hopefully add a little to that.
We have heard some fascinating thoughts during this event from people including the great Jaron Lanier about what we might like to see for the future of copyright.
I’m going to talk about how.
And about how you can become involved in an open, collaborative project that, alongside others like our close collaborators at the Linked Content Coalition, has the potential to change the whole copyright landscape.
The Copyright Hub is a simple idea because copyright itself is a simple concept.
At its heart, copyright says that creators own their work, and that the owner’s permission is needed before someone else can use it.
That fundamental idea, and the consequent process of seeking and giving of permission, underpins the whole copyright landscape.
We make the seeking and giving of permission as efficient and quick as the internet itself.
That means connecting the content to its owner so that their permission can be sought and given. And it means making it possible for machines to handle the whole process.
Connecting things and getting machines to talk to each other. It’s what the internet does. The Copyright Hub just applies it to copyright.
Easier to show you than talk about it. So here are some examples:
Here’s a picture I found on the internet. Whose is it? Can I use it? On what terms?
Here’s a little film clip
I hope you get the idea, even as briefly as that. I’m confident you do because the reaction we have had so far from people who have seen what we do has been tremendously positive.
It works for any kind of content: TV, writing and all others as well as photos, film and music. We’re about to launch our first music use case. It works for any kind of permission, anywhere. Creations are given identifiers, the identifiers are linked to the owner’s machine and the machines talk to each other.
We have passed through the trickiest and riskiest phases of this process, with nine live applications launched today. No longer just a concept.
Our next challenge is building much more scale. We already have more than 100 implementations waiting to be launched. We need to launch these and hundreds more.
The reason that is such a big challenge is not because of a lack of demand or rationale or capability. It’s because of some constraints we have imposed on ourselves.
We are non-profit.
Our technology is free, available and useful for non-commercial users as well as commercial ones; for individuals as well as companies; for creators and users of all kinds whether professional or not.
It is for every nation, whether already big players in the creative marketplace or wishing to use the talent of their creators and the opportunities we help facilitate to become bigger.
We have got this far thanks to the generous support of creative companies big and small, collecting societies and individual creators in the UK, USA, Australia and with help from the UK government.
In the long term The Hub’s work will be to ensure that the marketplace is trusted and orderly and becoming self-sustaining will be easy.
In the meantime we need to stimulate others – everyone – to help build and launch it.
What does this mean?
Lots of things.
More content needs to carry identifiers so that the first link is made. We need creators, creative businesses and ordinary internet users to embrace them for their creations.
We need more services which use them innovatively, so we need entrepreneurs and innovators to come on board.
We need governments and public bodies to recognise that our work creates a new kind of public infrastructure and find ways of helping build it for the public good, perhaps creating their own Hubs interconnected with others.
The Copyright Hub’s role it to provide facilitation, coordination, expertise, an open forum for everyone who is a stakeholder.
This isn’t, and can’t be, just a UK, or even a UK-USA-European-Australian initiative.
It is as broad as copyright itself and needs to belong to, and be supported by, the whole copyright community, globally.
The prize for any creator, and anyone who consumes their work, stands to be great.
The opportunity to unlock new value and efficiency in the – as we learned from Francis Gurry yesterday- $2.2tn creative marketplace is vast.
The advantage of having a common technology underpinning trusted marketplaces, creating genuine competition and innovation, is self-evident.
The idea that seeking and giving permission and exchanging it for some kind of value need be no more expensive, complex or controversial than loading a webpage is liberating.
That’s why I said at the beginning that today is a day of opportunity.
We are inviting participation and contributions from governments, companies and individuals everywhere.
In return we offer openness, equal access to technology, our help and support and the expansion of this project to a much wider group of collaborators and stakeholders who wish to see a sustainable and trusted copyright ecosystem.
Thank you, WIPO for this marvellous event and for this opportunity to show you our work and open a discussion about it with a far wider audience.
Today is a call to action as well as a chance to show-and-tell.
Lets grab this opportunity to deliver the full potential that The Copyright Hub, and the LCC have shown they have to deliver transformative, hugely positive, change for all.